Maintaining A Sense of Place & History:
Our facilities may have changed over the years, but our passion for Wolfpack football remains as strong as it's ever been.
Part 2 - Riddick Field & Before
In the early days of the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts, football games were played, as the 1909 edition of the Agromeck reported, "on whatever part of the College grounds happened to be uncultivated and without trees." The school's first home game was against the Raleigh Boys School, on an open field that was marked off, not with white lines, but with a mule and a plow.
Most of the early games were actually played on an open lot at the North Carolina Fairgrounds, which were located across Hillsboro (as it was then spelled) Street until 1927. Even in the earliest days of football, games played during the week of the fair created an extra stir on campus.
In 1907, faculty members, alumni and students began collecting money to enclose a large tract of land behind the Main Building that would become the home of the football and baseball teams. The Aggies played their first game there against Randolph Macon, recording a 20-0 win.
Wooden grandstands slowly rose on the site, and it was named Riddick Field in 1912, after popular professor W.C. Riddick (at right), who is remembered as the father of athletics at the school.
He was the team's coach in 1898-99, and helped guide the fledgling program to its most important outcome before the turn of the century, a 10-10 tie against the varsity squad from the University of North Carolina. Students celebrated by marching through campus and torching the school's original outhouse.
In 1916, the wooden bleachers were replaced with concrete grandstands on the west side of the field. But those grandstands were built in stages, with the graduating senior classes donating the money needed to build one section at a time until it was complete in 1923. Construction started on the east side bleachers in 1924 and was finally completed in 1939, with the addition of a two-story fieldhouse between the south end zone and the railroad tracks that bisects the campus.
No sooner than the facility was done than the football team began to avoid it. It became a run-down mess, with its poor lighting, its open-air press box and its backless bleacher seats that could barely handle 25,000 spectators.
"I don't want to be overly critical," said Bill Hensley, NC State's sports information director from 1955-60. "But it was a very poor facility. It just wasn't something befitting a Division I football program."